As many students settle in for the beginning of the fall semester, both on campus and back home, it is important to remind ourselves that even though we may not be meeting in person, you are not alone. It can feel very isolating to have fully online or even hybrid classes. One of the things I miss the most about in-person classes are the peers and study groups I made each semester and the friendships that formed from them. Living by myself this year has taught me a lot about how important it is to take care of ourselves, our friendships, and our mental health during such stressful and isolating circumstances. So here are five things I’ve committed to doing to feel less alone this semester:
Talk to and Check-in on Family and Friends at least Once a Week
It can be a little overwhelming living on your own. Even if you have roommates it can still be hard to cope without seeing your friends and family as often as you did before the pandemic. One way that I’ve managed to feel less lonely is by reaching out to people as often as possible and checking in. This time is super stressful for everyone, so sending a short friendly text to your parents and friends can make their day. My mom and I FaceTime at least three times a week to stay up to date on what’s happening (and for her to show me how big my puppy, Remy, has grown since I left). Seeing my friends’ faces, over Zoom, Facetime, or in-person (socially distanced and with masks, of course!), always cheers me up after a crummy and stressful day.
Focusing on Health
I have been guilty of not drinking enough water and having takeout for an embarrassing amount of meals in a row. Hey, it’s college and it is easy to lose track of time and take the easy way out for a quick bite. Even so, I have started carrying a giant reusable water bottle with me around my apartment and whenever I do go out to stay hydrated. Proper hydration and eating a decent meal puts me in such a better mindset and is so much more fulfilling than when I just grab something quick and easy.
Take on a New Skill
Speaking about making healthier choices: Two of the new skills I’ve taken up since the pandemic started are cooking and baking. Taking the time out of my day to plan out my meals and prepare them myself gives me peace of mind. I find it very calming to cook and love making food for my friends. I have actually started making extra healthy treats for my friends and dropping them off as a surprise little pick-me-up.
It can be very easy to give up on your workout routine and lay in bed all day long when all of your classes are online. Considering this, I try to get up every day and go for a walk around the block, do some light yoga, stretches, or even try to find various objects to incorporate as free weights in my workout. Staying active will help alleviate anxiety, use up excess energy, and make it a little bit easier to form a more solid routine!
And Most Importantly: LIMIT SCREEN TIME
This one might seem the most out of place considering our phones, tablets, and computers are our lifelines for classes and socialization these days. That being said, that is exactly why I try to have at least two to three hours a day with absolutely no screens. The constant strain on our eyes from looking at a screen and the additional blue light has been giving me more frequent headaches, so my solution is to use my electronics less. Instead of binge-watching things on Netflix as soon as my lectures are over, I’ve taken to reading a book, taking a nap, going outside for a walk, and other calming activities that limit the added strain and headaches. Next week I am actually going to test a pair of blue light filtering glasses and a laptop screen shield to see if they limit the number of headaches I get.